By Daniel Whyte
Future News Worldwide is an annual conference for passionate students or young journalists between the age of 18-25.
The conference is organized by the British Council in partnership with some world-leading media organizations and it brings together 100 delegates selected from thousands of applicants worldwide.
This year’s conference had three Nigerians among the 100 delegates from over 50 countries and encompassed brilliant workshops which ranged from Social News Gathering and Verification; Interviewing Trauma Victims; Utilising Facebook among other social media platforms and making the best use of Google News initiative as journalists.
In the age of globalization and heightened connectivity, social media has become, for the journalist, a double-edged sword. On one hand, social media creates a platform for the gathering and fast dissemination of news to unimaginably faraway places, however, the increased connectivity and rapidity in dissemination also enables a fertile ground for the spread of fake news and disinformation which could engender violence and chaos among other lethal threats.
Journalists are, therefore, on a daily basis confronted with the challenge of filtering and verifying the information being shared across social media platforms to ascertain the validity and consequently prevent potential harm to humanity.
In this stead, the conference is very useful in that it brings together professionals to teach different methods of image and video verification among others and importantly, enlighten on how Google News Initiative can be well utilized in the process of verification as well as in digital storytelling.
Furthermore, Aliaume Leroy and Benjamin Strick from BBC Africa Eye gave an insight into the endless possibilities in journalism which are not yet fully explored. Through their work as open-source investigative journalists, they have investigated and were able to identify the time, place and perpetrators of horrible killings through trigonometry, shadow calculation among other skills. Here is a sample of their work: Anatomy of a Killing.
There was an insight into the importance of solutions journalism by Taylor Nelson which is particularly relevant today as well as a session on the basic principles in interviewing trauma victims delivered by Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma in addition to Christina Lamb’s session on what it is like to be a foreign correspondent and to report crises or wars.
There were many other fantastic speakers and experts like Nick Tattersall Reuters Managing Editor, News, for Europe, Middle East, and Africa; Sreenivasan Jain who is Managing Editor of New Delhi Television, India; Jon Snow, longest-running presenter of Channel 4 News; Catherine Gicheru, an International Centre for Journalists Fellow and Country Lead for Code for Kenya, a data journalism, civic technology initiative; among several others.
Among the lessons learned are that reliability and audience’ trust is based on fact-based reporting as well as verification of facts. Also, solutions journalism can also be embraced to increase civic engagement by reporting about responses to social problems and how are the responses are working or not working.
To conclude the conference, Sonny Swe, publisher of Frontier Myanmar talked about censorship and his own personal experience of imprisonment.
In the process of doing quality journalism, reporters, sadly, often risk harassment, violent attacks among others from government officials and political leaders which could lead to imprisonment or even loss of life. In the midst of this sordid reality, Sonny Swe emphasized the place of mental strength and stability. He advised that it is the mental strength that can keep anyone going during and after imprisonment and therefore urges that reporters shouldn’t risk losing it.
Needless to say, the conference gives all delegates the opportunity of meeting experts in the field of journalism and enables them to make networks which could bring life-changing opportunities.
Therefore, if you are a passionate student journalist, the Future News Worldwide Conference is certainly what you should aspire to attend.
To learn more about the conference you can follow @myfuturenews on twitter, #fnw19, @BritishCouncil or go to their website: https://www.britishcouncil.
Daniel Whyte is a final year student of English and literary studies at Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State. He is also the current President/Editor-in-Chief of Union of Campus Journalists, FUOYE chapter. Contact him via email: [email protected]; Twitter:@_DanWhyte